Discussion paper

DP17237 Wealth Inequality: Opportunity or Unfairness?

This paper presents evidence for a new propagation mechanism of wealth inequality. Motivated by cross-country survey evidence, it uses unique administrative microdata and a quasi-field experiment of exogenous assignment to test the hypothesis that, in the presence of significant opportunities for wealth mobility, the more educated respond to greater wealth inequality at the start of economic life by taking more financial, real, and self-employment risks and achieving higher wealth, thereby propagating wealth inequality. We find no evidence for alternative channels of propagation through labor income, unemployment risk, or human capital investment, nor for inspiration, imitation, or learning from the rich.


Haliassos, M, T Jansson and Y Karabulut (eds) (2022), “DP17237 Wealth Inequality: Opportunity or Unfairness?”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 17237. https://cepr.org/publications/dp17237